obvious reason is to shelter you from rain.
are great way to keep you and your gear dry, Once your tent and gear
get wet your trip is going to be miserable.
get me wrong, even when we were wet and miserable, we still had a
good time, but it would have been a LOT better if we hadn't been wet."
doesn't matter how good your tent is, if it rains hard enough, and
for long enough,
are going to get wet!
the rain comes down hard enough, it will come right through the
fabric of all but the best tents, and if there is ANYTHING leaning
against the inside of any of your tent walls, I guarantee water will
find it's way in.
even if you seal your seams, they are pretty likely to leak!
can walk around a camp grounds in the rain and see for yourself,
campers with tarps can hang around outside by the fire, play cards or
cook dinner while campers without tarps remain trapped in their
tents. What would you rather do?
not for rain . . .
only place to escape a burning hot day besides the cool water is
under the tarp.
also keep tree debris off tables, chairs and generally making the
campsite bit more orderly. They can also hide you from wildlife and
other campers, making your site a little more private, especially in
those crowded camp grounds!
can redirect wind for a breeze in the campsite, making it hard for
bugs to fly while providing oxygen for the fire to burn well. In cold
windy weather they can keep wind out of the camp site while retaining
some of the heat from the fire.
If more tarps are needed, tie them independently of
each other, this way if one comes down the rest stay up. Each tarp
must have all four corners tied to a solid object such as trees. Make
sure that the tarps horizontally overlap so that rain can't get through.
Never tie two tarps together.
This puts too much stress on the tarps during
strong winds and storms. If one of the tarp's corners should come
down, so will everything tied to that tarp. Each tarp should have
four anchor ropes tied to a solid fixed object like a mature tree or
a solid ground spike.
Poles are a benefit, especially in areas without
strong trees. Try to put the tarps up without poles if possible, and
then add the poles to enhance them. This ensures that the tarps can
support themselves if anything should happen to the poles.
your tarp should tear during your trip buy a new one before your
a tear is formed the tarp will never recover to its original
condition even if you sew it.
Kind of Tarp Should I get?
are a couple of types of plastic and tarp that can be used to keep
your tent and gear dry.
come in several varieties.
stores sell the blue poly tarps;
are basic, and fairly durable.
times you can find tarps that are brown, green, or silver.
these colors tend to be a bit heavier, and stronger than the basic
In addition to these, you can also use painters tarps (these are
thin clear plastic, and you basically get one use out of them) and
the rolls of plastic sheeting that contractors use (You can purchase
these at Wal Mart for about $5 per roll.)
You can use theses items to make ground cloths for under your tent,
and to cover your fire wood.
a ground cloth it can be used a couple of times until holes
start to develop in it, then just throw it away, and make a new one.
To Utilize Your Tarp(s)
nature decide where the rope should be tied. Begin by tying the two
lower corners where you want the runoff to be. Then pick up the next
corner to be tied and point it where it wants to go. Tie a rope to
the corner; make sure the rope is long enough to go where you want.
a heavy object to the other end of the rope and throw it over the
branch of choice.
the end of the rope and pull the tarp taunt, tie it off with a
for remaining corner.
cold, wet weather, angle the tarp with the low edge facing the wind.
The wind will be forced over the campsite instead of through it, more
importantly water can run off the tarp instead of collecting in a pool.
warm, dry weather, try to angle the tarp with the high edge facing
the wind. This creates a sort of parachute, raising the tarps in
way you set up the tarps is very important.
tarps must be capable of handling what ever Mother Nature throws at them.
may not seem like a big deal, but it can be very serious.
instance, a tarp that covers a tent which measures 20' x 30'.
a rain storm, a LOT of water lands on this tarp. The harder it
rains the more water the tarp collects.
tarp has to be able to drain that water as quickly as it comes
down. Otherwise, the water starts to pool up. Water
weighs about 8 lbs. per gallon. If water begins to pool up, it
won't be long before the weight of the water is more than your tarp,
and rigging can hold.
that tarp comes crashing down on your tent, with 150 lbs. of water
pooled up in it,
don't want to be under it!
is very important then, to think about drainage when you are setting
up your tarps.
Naturally, if the site has a slope, you need to consider the slope
when setting up the tarps. Ideally, you want to have the tarps
drain on the downhill side of the site. Wal Mart sells
adjustable height tent poles for about $6 each that are great for
holding up the edges of tarps. I use these to help me arrange
my tarps to drain where I want them to. These poles extend up
to about 8' high, but sometimes that isn't enough. I like the
lowest end of my tarp to be high enough to walk under without bending
down. For me, that is about 6'. The middle of the tarp
has to go over my tent, which is a bit over 7' tall. In order
to keep a good slope, I need the high end of my tarp to be between
8.5' and 9' high.
water collects on top of your tarps, raise the top corner
with a stick or pole allowing the water to run off the sides. Don't
try raising the center because the tarp may be punctured in the place
you least want a hole. Too much water collecting on your tarps will
eventually cause them to come crashing down.
can create a lean-to with a tarp by pegging one side very low to the ground.
arrangement will reflect heat from the fire and can heat up the
entire area in moderate winds. A lean-to is the basic structure for
survival, with minimal resources, in a cold climate. Be sure to peg
the low side of the tarp towards the wind.
heavy winds, tarps often cannot handle the strain.
if the wind starts blowing, it can get under a tarp and snap it
taught which can be enough of a shock to snap a tie down.
this situation you must tie the end of the strained rope to a
counter weight instead of a solid object.
rope should be thrown over a strong branch. Then tie a heavy object
to the end draping over the branch. When a strong wind comes the
counter weight will be lifted a bit, when the wind dies down the
counter weight will pull the tarp taunt.
can also try using bungee cords between your tie down and your tarp
to allow for some shock absorption.
the bungee cord allows the sudden shock to be absorbed,
prevents the tie down from breaking.
tie tarps to vehicles.
you forget and drive off with the tarp tied to the car, it's coming
down. Of course, this will happen in the worst rain of the trip.
tarp must have all four corners tied to a solid object such as trees.
not damage trees when putting up your tarps.
you hammer that nail into a tree look around, you will likely find
two or three nails already there from previous disrespectful
individuals. Remember that those trees have to service hundreds of
people every year; it doesn't take much to destroy something so fragile.
Duct tape is as good as any temporary repair kit you
Make sure the tape is body temperature to help
it stick. The tape adheres best on clean dry surfaces but will sticks
to just about anything, including a damaged canoe. An added bonus is
it can be used to prevent blisters by applying a square of it to bare
skin reducing abrasion.
One of the stable things in camping, something that
never changes, is that grommets fail.
A tarp is only as strong as it's grommets, the
strain on those points is often strong enough to cause a grommet to
separate from the material.
There is a way to fix this corner by making an
emergency grommet with a pebble; the technique is simple and
remarkably effective. This hand made contraption can often outlast
the original brass factory grommets.
Start by finding a small pebble or piece of wood. Any
shape will do, you can even use a pen cap or AA battery, whatever is
lying around the campsite.
Place the pebble on the tarp near the corner and fold
the end over the pebble, completely covering it. You can roll it over
more than once if you need to but the less you do this the better.
Now tie a rope around the tarp just after the pebble,
forming a sack around the pebble. This grommet is very strong if done
correctly, it should outlast the tarp itself. Of course you won't get
the same drainage as a smooth flat tarp without the wrinkles caused
by the knot of the pebble grommet.
How To Pack and Store a Tarp
Do not waste your time and money on one of those cool tarps that
comes with it's own carring pouch!
THEY WILL NEVER GO BACK INTO THE CUTE POUCH!!!!!!
The best way that I found to fold and store tarps are to fold them up
like folding the American Flag or the old paper football (triangle fold).
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